Cable TV satellites transiting the Sun, observable?

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  • Member since
    March, 2009
Cable TV satellites transiting the Sun, observable?
Posted by wa2ise on Tuesday, October 01, 2013 3:29 PM

My cable company Optimum sent an email to me telling of temporary outages as the Sun passes behind the satellites that distribute various cable TV channels.  "Between October 4th and October 12th, you might notice a very brief interruption in TV service due to sun outages. In the fall, when the sun moves lower in the sky each day, there are times when it goes directly behind a TV satellite and its radiation overpowers the satellite's signal. TV service will be interrupted for only a few minutes and will come back automatically. " Was wondering if these satellites can be seen transiting the Sun.  Or would I need to use a solar telescope like the McMath Pierce?


  • Member since
    July, 2002
  • From: Texas
Posted by chipdatajeffB on Tuesday, October 01, 2013 4:12 PM

You will need a safely-filtered solar telescope. You can either use a typical white-light filter (e.g., Baader Turbo Solar film) or a purpose-built solar telescope like those for hydrogen alpha, Ca-K, and the like.

These satellites are geostationary. So, unlike other satellites transiting the Sun (which can pass completely across the solar disc in a fraction of a section), you will have several seconds to spot them.

If you do not have a solar filter, another safe way to view the sun is to project its disc onto a white card behind the eyepiece. How safe this is depends on the type of telescope and its aperture. Since all the wavelengths are passing through the telescope, and the eyepiece is magnifying the image as well as projecting it, things are going to get very hot. I would not recommend this with a telescope of more than a couple inches aperture, or with a premium eyepiece.

You must remember to never look directly at the Sun through an unfiltered telescope, or an improperly-filtered one.


And if someone else is with you, take care that they don't either accidentally or purposely look at the Sun.


Remember to cover your finder scope, as well.

Whether you can actually see the satellite also depends on its size and distance. I have imaged satellites transiting the solar disc and if I hadn't known precisely when to look I never would have noticed them.


The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we CAN imagine. --- JBS Haldane

Come visit me at Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (we're on Google Maps) in Texas.

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